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In the space of nine days, Leah Vukmir went from condemning Richard Uihlein’s campaign cash to essentially soliciting it.
Seem like a flip-flop?
Unwrap the Flip-O-Meter, which we use to rate a person’s consistency on an issue — in this case, Vukmir’s position toward Uihlein, the conservative mega-donor.
Who is Uihlein?
Uihlein, an Illinois resident, is a founder of Uline Corp., a shipping and packaging supply company based in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., near the Illinois border. If anyone could almost single-handedly make political newcomer Kevin Nicholson into a viable candidate for the U.S. Senate, it was Uihlein.
Nicholson ultimately lost to Vukmir, a longtime state lawmaker, in the Aug. 14, 2018 Republican primary for the right to take on the incumbent, Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin, in the fall. But he took the fight to Vukmir -- in no small part because of spending by Uihlein.
Groups supported by Uihlein spent nearly $11 million in support of Nicholson and against his rival, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported several days before the primary. For example, the Uihlein-backed group Solutions for Wisconsin made a $911,000 television buy in the final days.
What Vukmir said about him
Now, to what Vukmir has said about Uihlein — the contrasting statements having been pointed out in an Associated Press news article.
Aug. 6, 2018: "Try to buy"
Eight days before the primary, Vukmir was salty toward Uihlein.
"I think it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of a lot of people that a particular out-of-state donor is spending as much money as he is to, in essence, almost try to buy a Senate seat, and that’s not what Wisconsin politics is about," Vukmir told Green Bay conservative radio talk show John Muir, in a clear reference to Uihlein.
That Vukmir remark echoed criticism from Democrats, who 10 months earlier were complaining that Uihlein was trying to buy the seat for Nicholson.
Aug. 15, 2018: "Reaching out"
The day after her primary win, however, Vukmir was conciliatory.
"We are already reaching out to Dick Uihlein and I hope that he will want to continue with his commitment," Vukmir said to conservative Milwaukee radio talk show host Mark Belling.
"Let’s face it, he wants to defeat Tammy Baldwin. And so I will look forward to having that conversation with him," Vukmir added, noting she would be attending a unity dinner two days later co-hosted by Uihlein.
The Flip-O-Meter has three ratings:
No Flip – No significant change in position.
Half Flip – A partial change in position.
Full Flop – A complete change in position.
In this case, Vukmir went from condemning Uihlein’s campaign contributions to essentially soliciting them. It may be understandable, given Uihlein’s resources, that Vukmir would decide to seek his support. But it’s also a Full Flop.
WTAQ, John Muir interview of Leah Vukmir (35:55), Aug. 6, 2018
Associated Press, "Big question for Wisconsin Senate race focuses on megadonor," Aug. 16, 2018
iHeart.com, Mark Belling interview of Leah Vukmir (55:00), Aug. 15, 2018
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